How much do you know about Spain? Whether you’re planning a trip there or are simply curious, there’s a lot to learn about this awesome country!
If you’re learning how to speak Spanish, especially, finding out about the culture in Spain can make your studies that much more interesting.
Without further ado, here are 50 interesting facts about Spain that you might be surprised to learn!
Interesting Facts About Spain & Spanish Culture
- Not all Spaniards are native speakers of (Castilian) “Spanish.” There are four official languages in Spain (Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician), three unofficial regional languages (Asturian, Aragonese, and Aranese), and several more dialects.
- The Spaniards have a completely different life rhythm from other Europeans. They typically have lunch between 1 and 3 pm, and dinner around 10 pm.
- Spanish culture greatly influenced modern art from the late 1800s, with artists like Antoni Gaudí (Art Nouveau), Pablo Picasso (expressionism, cubism, surrealism), Joan Miró (surrealism), and Salvador Dalí (surrealism).
- Flamenco is not actually a dance; it’s a musical style, which sometimes has dancing in it.
- 58 million tourists go to Spain every year, making it the fourth most visited country in the world.
- Spain is renowned for its lively festivals, including San Fermín (“running of the bulls”) in Pamplona and Tomatina (“tomato battle”) in Buñol.
- More than 150,000 tomatoes are usually thrown at La Tomatina.
- The official name of Spain is “Kingdom of Spain.”
- The national anthem of Spain has no words.
- There are no laws about public nudity in Spain.
- 43% of the world’s olive oil production is done in Spain.
- From 2008 to 2013, the Spanish national football team was named FIFA Team of the Year.
- Spain won its first World Cup football title in 2010, which made the country the 8th country to have ever won.
- The Tooth Fairy is a mere rodent in Spain, referred to as Ratoncito Pérez.
- Breaks, free time, and siestas are a huge part of everyday Spanish culture.
- Spain was the world’s third most popular tourist destination in 2013 (after France and the US).
- Don Quixote, the famous book written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes in 1605, was voted the “most meaningful book of all time” in 2002 by a panel of 100 top authors.
- Traditionally, you have two surnames in Spain – the first surname from your father, and the second from your mother.
- Spaniards celebrate the New Year by eating one grape with their family for each bell strike of the clock.
- The quill pen is thought to have originated in Spain about 1,400 years ago.
- The Spanish often use gestures with, or to substitute for, words. Flicking the teeth with the thumbnail, wiggling fingers from the nose, and grabbing the left arm with the right while making a left-handed fist are all thought to be offensive.
- There are fewer marriages in Spain than in any other EU country except Sweden.
- The divorce rate in Spain is 17% (relatively low compared to over 50% in the
- Madrid is in the physical center of the country and the plaza Puerta del Sol is the exact center of the country.
- Spain has the second highest number of bars per inhabitants.
- Do not be alarmed by a dirty floor in a bar. It is completely acceptable and normal to throw things on the ground in bars. Most of the time a dirty floor means a good bar!
- Tortillas in Spain are not the same as tortillas elsewhere. Tortilla española refers to a very popular egg and potato dish. Spaniards use the word “tortitas” to refer to flour/corn tortillas.
- Most households buy fresh bread every day. Traditionally, they are long baguettes called barras or pistolas. Bread is present (and required) at almost every meal.
- Tomatoes, potatoes, avocadoes, tobacco, and cacao (for chocolate) were all imported into Europe by Spain.
- Though Spain is more famous for its red wine than white, the majority of its vineyards have white grapes.
- Spain is one of the world’s biggest producers of saffron, an important ingredient in paella.
- The Madrid subway is the second largest underground system in Europe and the sixth largest system in the world.
- The family is the basis of the social structure and includes both the nuclear and the extended family, which sometimes provides both a social and a financial support network.
- Owning one’s home is very important to Spanish people, and some 80% of Spanish households do.
- The majority of Spaniards are formally Roman Catholic, although different religious beliefs are accepted.
- People are often referred to as Don or Dona and their first name within formal occasions.
- If invited to a Spaniard’s home, you can bring chocolates, pastries, or cakes; wine, liqueur, or brandy; or flowers to the hostess.
- In business, face-to-face contact is preferred to written or telephone communication.
- Despite the beret being associated with France, the Basques in Northeast Spain invented it.
- It is not customary to tip in Spain, especially for cheap meals.
- Each regional country of Spain – Pais Vasco, Cataluña, Galicia – has its own language, hymn, and flag.
- Barcelona has 15 million visitors per year, while Madrid has only 6 or 7.
- The Madrid-Barcelona route has the highest number of flights per week in the world.
- Spain has more than 8,000 beaches.
- The name Spain diverged from the word Ispania, which means the land of
- On May 15th all the single women in Madrid visit the chapel called Ermita de
San Isidro to prick their fingers with pins and put it in a vessel, in order to find a
- Same sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
- On St. George’s Day (April 23rd) in Barcelona, it’s customary to exchange a book and/or a rose with the person you love.
- Spaniards own more cars than cell phones.
- Spanish people are very fond of food. A famous saying is ‘Barriga llena, corazón contento!’, which translates to ‘A full belly and a happy heart!’.